Morphine – an analgesic and narcotic drug obtained from opium.
My relationship with this little drug is not so sweet.
I was given it in liquid form (commonly known as Oramorph) by my GP a few weeks back when my pain levels became overwhelmingly high due to a ruptured cyst. I was advised to take it when I needed it, but more for the acute, severe pain, and that if I was using more and more, they would have to switch me to a different form of it because it was easy to become resistance to it.
It’s also easy to become addicted to opioid drugs, but thats a different story in my article you can read here. But you can understand why it isn’t prescribed at the drop of a hat, and if you are needing to use it, you are closely monitored and made sure to be taken it safely.
Oramorph comes in a small 100ml bottle (although I am sure you might be able to get bigger volumes if required), and you often take it in either 5ml or the maximum 10ml dose every 4 hours. Meaning that, on those incredibly bad days, this bottle would only last you 8 and half doses.
The doses have to be measured with a syringe because it needs to be exact. The reason why is because the dose needs to be exact – morphine is a dangerous drug and can lead to addiction cause serious problems if not taken correctly. Bit weird as you feel like a bit of a child having to be syringe-fed a medicine, but if it makes it the correct dose then so be it!
Morphine in it’s liquid form tastes unpleasant – a bit like a bitter taste crossed with aniseed – and tends to hang around until you’ve guzzled a load of water. It’s also really sticky and despite the bottle having a special topper that the syringe fits into, the top of the it still gets messy.
Regardless of this, morphine works pretty quickly. The problem being that it doesn’t this effect doesn’t hang around for too long. Despite the dose being every 4 hours, more often than not it’s half-life is around 2 hours, meaning that you are likely to notice it wearing off a while before your next dose is even due.
Personally, morphine is reserved for those moments where the pain is so acutely bad I am relying on my husband to move me, I am flitting between sweating and being lightheaded and my stomach has ballooned. Since having it prescribed at the start of September I have only taken it a small number of times – this is not me bragging, it is highlighting my own anxieties with strong medication. I think this stems mainly from my background as a Physiotherapist and seeing so many patients reliant on the drug, plus the fact it doesn’t last as long as I’d like it to.
The sad thing is, is that the more I am requiring the stronger pain relief and the morphine, the more I will have to use them. Strong opioid-based medications will create resistance if they are taken for a long time, meaning that a person will have to take higher and more frequent doses until they become ineffective. And what happens then? I don’t really know what comes after morphine, but I don’t think I want to find out.
My pain specialist, much like my very good GP, told us that morphine is to be used sparingly and reserved for those really bad moments described above. I was told, however, that if I was finding that I was needing to take it more frequently, they would switch me to a patch or oral medication which was a slow-release version. This essentially is the same dose as the liquid form but released over a much longer period of time, meaning that I will have less dosages and less chance of building up resistance.
I feel for patients who need morphine more frequently than me, for conditions that are just as or if not more painful than Endometriosis and Adenomyosis. Morphine comes with plenty of side effects – it makes me feel spacey, drowsy and my legs heavy, but other side effects include nausea, headaches, dry mouth and it can make the bladder and bowel a little lazy whilst taking it too.
However, if you need morphine to allow you to have some normalcy in your life, then that’s completely fine – no one should judge you and all I’m saying is that morphine is not my favourite thing to take.
If you’re taking morphine for the first time, then don’t be alarmed by my musings. You’re doctor will have prescribed it for the right reasons and it is totally safe to take when administered correctly.